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  • Ann Morrow

The Castaway

Rural back roads. If you’re lucky, you’ll see something weird and wonderful while driving their routes. I once spotted a clown in a cornfield and a goat riding shotgun on a John Deere. The un-weird thing about these, was seeing them on the outside of my vehicle. But, one summer afternoon, while driving down an old highway, something crazy happened on the inside.

I was cruising home from the farmer’s market, singing harmony with Carly Simon, when something caught my eye. A twitching leg peeked from behind the visor. I stopped singing (and breathing) when a hairy, brown spider crawled into view; indecently close to my face. Panic set in when it lowered itself from an invisible thread and began to sway in time to the music - possibly trying to hypnotize me. Then it dropped another inch, paused, and climbed back up. I was being taunted, by a spider yoyo.

I drew in a long breath, then blew hard, hoping a gust of air would force it onto the dash, where I could squash it. The spider swung forward. Then, with unexpected momentum, swung back, nearly touching my nose. I screamed. Through clenched lips, of course; fearing it would dive into my mouth and lay eggs in my stomach.

The next few seconds were a blur of stunt driver moves. I swerved, stomped the brakes, and slid to a sideways stop on the highway shoulder. A cloud of dust swirled around me as I unbuckled and fell out of my car.

Refusing to make eye contact with the driver of the Chevy truck pulling up behind me, I hopped around, slapping at myself and shouting obscenities. Pickup guy never got out; likely fearing I was off my meds and dangerous. Carly’s “You’re so Vain” blared from the speakers as I did the slappy-dance around my car, opening every door. But the spider had no intention of leaving on its own.

I contemplated abandoning the vehicle and hitching a ride home, but, opted to gather my wits and destroy the enemy. “Prepare to die,” I shouted, pointing at the spider who was now perched on the steering wheel. I reached into the backseat, retrieving a zucchini from my bag of produce. Then, with trembling hands guided it toward my attacker. I didn’t know how the little bugger got in there, but I knew how it was going out. I shuddered at the audible “crunch,” then, threw my head back and laughed victoriously, tossing my weapon into the bushes.

As I drove off, I waved at the pickup driver, and couldn’t help but wonder if I was the weirdest thing he’d ever seen while driving a rural backroad.




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